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“The Burnt Out Accountant”

 

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In my practice a new     client, Joseph (his name    and some details of his  story has been changed  to protect his  confidentiality) came to  see me because he was  stressed at work. As an  accountant working in a  large firm, he told me  that in “tax season” he  feels overworked and under-appreciated by his clients and never gets enough sleep. And when things are slow he has to find ways to distract himself – ways like drinking a little too much – or else he will be forced to think about how much he hates accounting!!

You see, it wasn’t his choice to go into accounting in the first place. His father was an accountant and his grandfather was a lawyer who put together commercial real estate investing groups . It was expected that he too become some kind of professional. He always got good grades in school. This only intensified the expectations on him.

His relationship with his father was always distant, as he often worked late. His mother was a homemaker. She worried a lot about money and didn’t really hear her son’s frustrations. Joseph so desperately wanted his father’s approval that he kept his head down and followed what was expected of him.

Fast forward 25 years:

In front of me sits a man looking older than his stated age. He complains of  suffering from frequent colds and headaches in the last few months. he is becoming cynical and losing confidence in his abilities. The one glass of wine an evening slowly became two then four to five on weekends. He is pulling away from his wife and is finding it hard to concentrate at work. He has some of the classical signs of Burnout.

I worked with him on first understanding why he was in this state. It took some time but he slowly began to let go of the guilt of change. I remember one session he asked me:

“Does that mean it is okay if I give up

all of my education and leave accounting?”

He was desperately looking for someone to validate his feelings, which I did. In fact we focused on his feelings a lot during the ensuing weeks. he realized that no one ever spoke about feelings when he was a child. It was like a new language to him.

I guided him through my program to discover a career that he would love. At first the guilt and old patterns kept popping up and he would backtrack out of fear. But with some gentle encouragement he took baby steps and eventually found his Dream Career.

He is now working for a sports marketing agency, promoting his city to prospective athlete clients. Whenever Joseph felt unloved and ignored by his parents in his childhood he often turned to sports to comfort him. This, among other discoveries in his journey with me, turned out to be one of the key clues in discovering his Dream Career.

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